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Jacob Dawson committed to protecting British Rowing's legacy

The Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist is on a mission to achieve sporting greatness in Paris

Dawson is aiming to turn bronze into gold and carry on a legacy that spans decades
Dawson is aiming to turn bronze into gold and carry on a legacy that spans decades (Reuters via Beat Media Group)

By Abi Curran, Sportsbeat

Olympic rower Jacob Dawson believes British Rowing has an elite sporting legacy to protect which is why he feels immense pride each time he is called for routine drugs testing.

The British men’s eight world champion successfully helped his crew defend their title in September, securing Team GB an Olympic quota spot.

The Plymouth 30-year-old has not always been so comfortable around testing, admitting a lack of education in his youth contributed to a fear factor around the routine process.

Now, with a wealth of experience under his belt, the Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist is on a mission to achieve sporting greatness in Paris while promoting clean sport to up-and-coming athletes.

“I remember the first time I got tested, it was 2016 and it was at the British Championships in Nottingham,” Dawson said.

“My name got pulled out and I was called into a room where it was explained that I'd been called for testing.

“UKAD went through the entire process and I was a professional athlete at that point so I felt a lot of pride at being pulled to be tested.

“The more I've been tested, the more I've learned about the system and I’ve been more informed about what I'm putting in my body.

“A lot of my nervousness when I was younger came because I hadn't had much education around what clean sport meant.

“Now I see so much investment towards the amateur side of sport and younger athletes being educated to think twice.”

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) promote regular workshops and initiatives, such as the Protect Your Sport campaign, which encourages people to come forward and share their concerns about doping in sport.

Clean sport has become even more pertinent to Dawson over the past 18 months after he suffered from a blood clot that threatened his life due to Covid-19 complications.

His ill health meant he missed out on Britain’s 2022 World Championships gold medal, but the rower is proud to have used all his education around clean sport to take all the necessary precautions on his road to a full recovery.

“I'm so fortunate that I have had the education I have had,” he said.

“I was able to be patient and take the correct steps in terms of getting back to myself rather than being tempted by any sort of illegal substance to get myself to where I need to be.

“It was all about having faith and trusting in the medical team that we have, trusting myself and having great support from my loved ones around me.

“In British rowing, we're very fortunate in that we have always prided ourselves on maintaining clean sport to the point where a lot of us don't even take informed sport supplements – we believe that food is the best way.”

With a huge summer ahead, Dawson is aiming to turn bronze into gold and carry on British Rowing’s legacy spanning decades.

He shared his advice to anyone who is suspicious of doping activity as part of the Protect Your Sport campaign.

“I would go through the anonymous whistleblowing channels that UKAD has set up, because you are not accusing someone of being guilty,” Dawson added.

“You need to pass that on to the correct authority so they can deal with it and investigate it thoroughly.

“UKAD aren't trying to catch you out as an individual, they’re trying to maintain the integrity of sport.

“My hope for the future would be that people won't avoid doping out of fear of being caught but because they understand it’s better to be a natural athlete and have your achievements earned through hard work.”

Protecting clean sport depends on everyone in sport playing their part to maintain a level playing field. If you have any suspicions that something’s not right, no matter how small, search Protect Your Sport or email pys@reportingdoping.com